12/02/2014

Full Face to God (by David Mahon)

Browsing in the Awesomebooks site, I came across this book by David Mahon. I can't find a website for him, and it appears that this is the only book he has written. The blurb on the back tells me that he is a Catholic, and also a trained counsellor.

He also has a clear and very readable writing style. 'Full Face to God' is subtitled 'An Introduction to the Enneagram', and that's what it is - written from a strongly Christian perspective. It's enlivened by light line drawings demonstrating caricatures of each type, not to be taken too seriously!

The Enneagram - which simply means a nine-pointed star - is an ancient system of personality typing which divides people into nine different categories, depicting them visually on the nine points of an enneagram.

Unlike other popular personality typing, this is not based on learning styles or decision-making processes, but on people's deeper-rooted needs, motivations and failings. Although it may have originated amongst Sufi Muslims, it has been adopted by many Christians as a valuable aid to understanding themselves and finding a path towards God, based on moving beyond their fixations and inherent difficulties.

This introductory guide presents the nine types clearly with a fairly long chapter for each. As well as descriptions, the author gives a checklist of likely beliefs, the ways each person might develop in childhood, the challenges typically confronting each type, and an overview of the different levels of health that can be found for each one. There are light-hearted images of animals, or colours that tend to be associated with each type, and more serious headings, such as the way each individual can best find God through different styles of prayer.

The book shows, too, how Jesus managed to combine the highest traits and gifts of each of the nine types into an integrated whole. It encourages each of us to aspire towards the healthier aspects of who we are, admitting our deepest sinful tendencies and moving beyond them.

Inevitably, as a relatively short beginner guide, the book only touches lightly on some of the complexities of the Enneagram. I have read several other books on the topic, but still found this quite thought-provoking and insightful I would recommend it to anyone wanting to know more - or, indeed, anyone wondering how this particular tool can be consistent with Christian beliefs.

Unfortunately this is no longer in print, but it can be found second-hand on both sides of the Atlantic

For someone looking for a more advanced book, also from a Christian perspective - or, indeed, someone who has read this particular book and would like to know more - I would also recommend Michael Hampson's 'Head versus Heart and our Gut Reactions'.

Review by Sue F copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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